Building Forum meets civil society to express concerns
Stabroek News
June 9, 2002

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The Building Forum has begun a series of meetings with civil society, the diplomatic corps and funding agencies to alert them to its concerns with the Procurement Bill passed by the National Assembly two weeks ago.

Terrence Fletcher, one of the key members of the forum, said that the group was no longer seeking a meeting with Minister of Finance, Saisnarine Kowlessar, as there had been no response to its request for one.

Instead, the forum is considering writing to President Bharrat Jagdeo asking that he delay his assent to the Bill until the concerns of the group are fully ventilated.

The Building Forum comprises various groups representing engineers, contractors, surveyors and architects. Its immediate concern over the bill is the composition of the National Board to oversee procurement. The bill provides for the minister to appoint five persons from the public service and two from the private sector.

However, the forum is arguing that there should be either three or four private representatives on the seven- member board, who should be selected by a Parliamentary Select Committee or the Public Accounts Committee and not the minister.

Fletcher said that the private sector appointees should be chosen from nominees submitted by the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers, the Guyana Institute for Architects, the Private Sector Commission and a non-governmental organization.

The forum has already met officials of the US embassy but Fletcher was tight-lipped on what that meeting dealt with. Stabroek News understands that the forum expressed its dissatisfaction with the Procurement Bill being taken to parliament without its representative expressing its views on the final draft.

It is anticipated in the coming weeks that the forum will seek to mobilize support for its position on the bill.

Procurement legislation is a key undertaking of the government to improve the transparency process in Guyana in its agreements with the multilateral agencies. However, the forum has criticized the process of the legislation as being undemocratic and not transparent. The forum was consulted on initial drafts but not the final draft about which it still has concerns.